Youth camp plan filed again
- Bill Sheehy
- Central Oregonian - News
>Once again developers have filed an application with the county for a conditional use permit to allow them to locate a youth church camp in the Mill Creek areaThe latest application for a permit to allow the construction of a youth church camp in the Mill Creek area northeast of Prineville has been filed with the county planning department.
The new proposal, which has yet to be presented to the county planning commission, addresses many of the concerns that led to previous problems with neighbors and planners. This is not the first time the applicants have faced their opponents and it appears from a quick reading of the new application, they are ready with answers.
It was about two years ago, after an agreement between the principals had been reached, that appeals filed on a proposed youth church camp were withdrawn. Papers forwarded to the county by property owners in close proximity to the camp)s location asked that the appeals be dismissed.
The youth camp proposal, originally made by a Lebanon, Oregon, Baptist church program called Outreach Northwest, was for a youth camp facility that reportedly would be available to various churches. According to an application for a Conditional Use Permit (CUP), the camp would also be available for local schools outdoor programs for grade school children.
The history of the youth camp goes back several years and was originally to be located on property on Highway 26 near the Mt. Bachelor Academy. That proposal was approved but before construction could begin, the permit expired. The next time the application was made, the site had changed to the Mill Creek area.
The proposed camp and retreat project was to be located 20 miles from town on Mill Creek Road on a small portion of the 200 acre Stein Pillar Herford Ranch.
Controversial from its inception, the Crook County Planning Commission, after taking testimony in many public hearings, had voted to deny the necessary permit. In the spring of 1998, a representative of the applicant, Larry Syme, had appealed that denial to the state. A hearing on the case was delayed, however, because of action in the state legislature on the issues raised by the commissioners.
During various hearings, residents living close to the site of the proposed summer camp had cited their concerns about bears, cougars and fire protection. The county's planners found other problems with the permit.
The list of issues addressed in the latest application makes it different from the application that had been withdrawn, the applicants state in the preface. One of the original claims was that Outreach Northwest is not financially capable of developing the property. That is not true, the applicant explained.
Outreach Northwest was is staffed full time by seven families and the ministries include High Cascade Adventure, Youth Mission in Action, Cross Training and Special Events. With more than 25,000 young people in attendance, the cover section of the latest application states, Outreach Northwest has had a significant impact on communities throughout the northwest.
The families have relocated to Prineville and that should, the opening report says, give a good indication of their intent. In addition, elsewhere talks about several unnamed foundations that have expressed financial interest as well as at least one $500,000 gift pledge.
The planning department has not set the new application on the county planning commission's agenda yet. Reportedly, the planners want to do a through job of researching and checking the application before passing it on to the decision makers.